Florida International University
MIAMI — Twelve fathers spent a recent Saturday afternoon dancing with their daughters during the annual “Growing Up in the Arts” recital hosted by Florene Litthcut’s Inner City Children’s Touring Dance Company.
“The annual dance recital is the culminating event of nine months of hard work,” said Florene Litthcut Nichols, founder of the company that recently hosted a similar “Precious Gifts” recital. “It is like having a baby; preparing, nurturing, and finally giving birth. It is a very happy, exciting occasion.”
The recital held at the Carrie P. Meek Senior and Cultural Center at Hadley Park included seven numbers in which girls ages 2 to 16 years old performed classical ballet and modern dance.
But the highlight of the day was the “Dancing Dads” segment during which fathers danced with their daughters, grandfathers with their granddaughters and big brothers with their little sisters.
Mustafa Muhammad, 44, danced with his 3-year-old daughter Ta'Leah. “I really enjoy myself because it gave me a chance to spend more time with my daughter,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind doing it again, especially if this is for her.
Father and daughter practiced three months for the performance. “It was a lot of work,” he said. “I work 12 hours a day.”
Roy Owens, 65, danced with his 4-year-old granddaughter Chloe. “My dad replaces a big part of my kids’ life,” said Owens’ daughter Karen, 34. “He participates in everything they do. He is like a father to my kids,”
It was not the first time Owens participated in the recital. He performed the same dance 25 years ago with his daughter, who also took dance lessons with Nichols.
“I think programs like this really enhance our young folks’ look at life and how they do in life, where they head in life,” he said. “It is good to have a positive thing going for them and I believe this is positive.”
Jade Lamar, 16, the oldest dancer in the recital has studied with Nichols since she was 3. Her mother, Veronica Lamar, was impressed with her performance.
“My baby was like a professional dancer!” she said. “She really was a professional dancer after all of the hours spent practicing.”
The Nichols company offers ballet, modern dance, tap and etiquette lessons for children 2 to 16.
“Self-confidence for some young women may be a struggle,” said Nichols.” But I love waiting to see them blossom on the day of the recital. It never fails.”
Contact Antonella Ieva at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Roy Owens and granddaughter Chloe